Having lived in suburban Germany and France for the past eleven years, Garam Lee (11) likes to call herself a passionate “global citizen.” Although she has yet to have much exposure regarding environmental protection, Garam aspires to become an environmentalist in the future. Influenced by her overseas experience, she realized the importance of safeguarding the natural world when she first came to South Korea.
“I used to live in a countryside environment without much artificial human influence,” Garam said. “Coming to Korea was a huge change for me, since I’ve never been in such a stratified and urban area, and everything from the air to transportation seemed to harm the ecosystem. I was certainly shocked.”
Although she had taken the unmarked ecosystem for granted during her stay in Germany, it was only when Garam arrived in Seoul that she took note of the urgency of change. Taking initiative, Garam has recently started to participate in activities to raise environmental awareness in various countries.
“This summer, I attended an environmental community service experience in Milan, where I actively promoted environmentalism,” Garam said. “I took part in fundraising for an environment protecting [non-governmental organization] NGO called fondo di ambiente.”
According to Garam, in addition to the health and societal benefits that arise with improved environmental conditions, preserving the ecosystem will be an inevitable course of action, for the consequences of not doing so will ultimately backfire.
“We have to take responsibility of our environment now,” Garam said. “[Our] environment will always be around us and if we don’t take the measures to protect the earth, our actions will lead to catastrophic outcomes for years to come.”
Above all, Garam is concerned that future generations will not be able to appreciate the beauty of nature that she had once experienced. She claims that we must place emphasis on learning to coexist with the environment, and to understand the procedures of reverting environmental damages.
“Students will only be motivated to take care of the environment if they experience it personally,” Garam said. “Although educating youth on environment is vital, lectures and classroom involvements will not be sufficient to encourage sustainable changes. When students go out and develop personal bonds with nature, they will grow to understand the importance of their environment.”
While adjusting to her life in Korea, Garam wishes to take her first step as an environmentalist by educating her local context, teaching elementary, middle and high school students by interactive means of discussions, outside activities and lectures. She further plans to participate in environment-related clubs such as Global Issues Network, and continue her connection with a variety of NGOs, one of which is fondo di ambiente.